Third molars, or wisdom teeth, are the large flat teeth at the back of the mouth. These teeth develop between 17 and 25, and getting them removed is almost a rite of passage nowadays. When it comes to wisdom teeth, it is known that they are likely to cause oral health problems, and so many people voluntarily get them extracted, lest they lead to complications later in life.
As per the popular narrative, wisdom teeth are removed at an early age, and there is a lot of confusion if or not it is too late to get them removed beyond 30. So in this blog, we will look at the preferred age to get it extracted and related topics.
WHY DO PEOPLE GET WISDOM TEETH REMOVED?
It is a common practice that people get wisdom teeth removed to avoid any future problems. Even some of the dentists recommend getting them proactively removed to prevent any following complications. Due to various reasons, such as their late development age and position, wisdom teeth can cause a plethora of problems, and that is why a lot of people get them extracted even if they are not posing any issues at the time.
Let us list down some of the problems resulting from wisdom teeth growth:
- Dental alignment issues
- Sinus problems
- Dental decay
- Damage to nearby teeth
Scientists believe that wisdom teeth were essential for the diet of our ancestors. Thanks to evolution, the sizes of our mouth and jawbone grew smaller, due to which there is not much in our gums to accommodate wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth grow when we have lost all our baby teeth. Particularly in people with small jawbones and crooked incisors, this creates many spacing problems and misalignment. Also, their positioning makes it difficult for the brush and floss to reach, and hence hygiene is difficult to maintain. Because wisdom teeth don’t have enough room to grow properly, they sometimes develop sideways or at a horizontal angle affecting the nearby teeth. The permanent teeth are already positioned, so this absurd developmental angle can cause them to shift their position, causing pain, overcrowding, and jaw damage. Some people might also develop cysts in the jaw bone, causing tooth abscess and damage to the nerves, bone, and teeth.
An impacted wisdom tooth is when they don’t fully erupt. This leads to severe pain, swelling, inflammation, and tooth decay. This is a prevalent condition, and to prevent all these sets of problems, many people usually consider it better to remove them at the earliest possible.
IS IT NECESSARY TO GET WISDOM TEETH REMOVED?
If your wisdom teeth are causing oral health problems, misalignment, cavities, damage to other teeth, etc., it is necessary to remove them. Even though issues like impacted wisdom teeth are recognized by pain, it is possible for you not to experience any discomfort at the onset of the problem. Pain might develop at a later stage where the procedure of extraction would already be highly complicated. It is, therefore, crucial to consult a professional and keep in check if or not this third set of molars is properly developing.
While many prefer getting wisdom teeth extracted at an early age, many people do not experience any issues. There is no proven benefit of getting wisdom teeth removed for no reason. If you think you can maintain proper oral hygiene and your teeth are growing just fine, there is no need to get them extracted and risk the complications that might result from the surgery. Regular checkups with the dentist, brushing, and flossing can keep you from any wisdom teeth-related oral issues.
WHY IS YOUNG AGE PREFERRED TO GET WISDOM TEETH EXTRACTED?
Wisdom teeth removal is usually preferred between ages 15 and 25. While there is no time when it is prohibited to get it extracted, there are some reasons why early age is what most doctors recommend.
- At an early age, the root of wisdom teeth is not fully formed. Since the teeth are not firmly anchored in place, the surgery is less complicated, and the removal is easy.
- The procedure at an early age is less likely to result in collateral problems such as nerve and bone damage.
- Because the surgery is not a very involved procedure, the healing is fast and recovery time is short.
Most doctors are in favor of extracting wisdom teeth when about two-thirds of the roots have formed. This makes the procedure easy and avoids many complications.
IS IT TOO LATE TO GET WISDOM TEETH REMOVED AFTER 30?
Let us get this straight, it is never too late to get wisdom teeth removed. It is not wise to keep the extraction on hold if they are causing health issues.
Although it is recommended to get wisdom teeth removed by 25, it can still be done later in life. Older adults might need wisdom teeth removal because they have become impacted or infected or are causing pain and damage to neighboring teeth and gums.
An impacted wisdom tooth can cause a myriad of problems. These teeth are either partially erupted or fully buried inside the jaw bone or the soft tissue and are more susceptible to decay. Cysts, tumors, and gum disease are some of the most common side effects of impacted wisdom teeth.
Inflamed gums, pain, cavities, and swollen jaws should not be ignored, and so no matter what age you develop wisdom teeth-related issues, it is best to get them removed.
WISDOM TEETH REMOVAL RISKS:
As with other surgeries, wisdom teeth removal is also accompanied by some risks. These might include;
- DRY SOCKET: Dry socket is one the most common complications of wisdom teeth removal. When blood does not form a clot in the tooth socket or dislodges, the condition is called a dry socket. It might occur 3-5 days after surgery and might cause intense pain, bad breath.
- NERVE INJURY: During the process, the nerve might get damaged. This would cause only temporary complications in most cases, but in rare cases, severe damage might lead to permanent complications.
- INFECTION: Sometimes, oral surgeries might also cause infections in the gum.
WISDOM TEETH EXTRACTION COMPLICATIONS AND AGE FACTOR:
Wisdom teeth extraction is a complex process. And it is important to note that getting them removed at an adult age might lead to some problems such as:
- COMPLICATED SURGERY: As we mentioned, roots are not fully developed at an early age, so extracting the teeth out is a relatively more straightforward process. In the case of adults, however, bone density increases over time so that the process would be more involved and complicated.
- LONGER HEALING PERIOD: In adults, the wisdom teeth recovery period is relatively more extended because of the complications in the surgery. The healing might take a week or more, depending upon the condition. In the case of an impacted tooth, which is typical among adults, healing might take a lot more time.
- POST-OPERATIVE PROBLEMS: The risk of postoperative problems like dry sockets, nerve injuries, infections, and pain is higher in older people than young folks. Apart from this, pain and sedatives might cause other aging-related issues like high blood pressure.
Please note that these complications are being listed only for information. Getting intimidated and delaying the needed surgery is not wise and could lead to more severe diseases and problems. Talk to your doctor, understand the procedure, and discuss your pre-existing health conditions and medications with them. Carefully abiding by all the pre-surgery and after-surgery instructions can reduce the chances of any post-operative issues.
After surgery, recovery could get hard. You might experience a lot of pain, and not taking care of the aftercare instructions might land you in trouble. Here’s what you can do to lower down the pain, fasten the healing, and reduce the risk of complications.
- You can start brushing your teeth the next day but make sure to not brush against any blood clots.
- It would help if you avoided hot drinks and smoking in the first few days because they can slow down healing.
- Hard foods can also sometimes cause problems and hence should be avoided. Moderately hot things, soups, and foods that can be crushed using tongue only like potatoes, fish, or pasta should be consumed.
- It is better to avoid strenuous exercises after having teeth pulled.
- Use moist heat for a sore jaw and ice packs to curb swelling.
- Don’t rinse your mouth harshly. The doctor might suggest using saltwater for gargling.
- Take the drugs your doctor prescribes regularly. Your doctor might prescribe painkillers, Paracetamol, to counter the pain. Enzyme BromelainBromelain might be recommended for inflammation.
Though many things like vomiting and inflammation to an extent are normal after oral surgery, in case of fever, dry sockets, or any other severe complications, make sure to discuss it with your doctor.
In this write-up, we debunked the myth that wisdom teeth extraction is not possible at an old age. As necessary as it is not to ignore the health complications that arise due to wisdom teeth, it is also better to know what to expect after surgery so that you mind whatever precautions and aftercare are needed.